Many people now rely on virtual private networks (VPNs) to stay secure when using the internet, as privacy and safety are crucial.
If you’ve used a VPN at least once before, chances are you have a file named “TAP-Windows” on your computer. You may also notice that in the Network and Internet section of Windows, you have an adapter named TAP-Windows Adapter V9.
Not sure what this is or why it’s on your system? The following guide will help you learn more.
Let’s get into it.
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TAP-Windows Adapter Explained
First and foremost, it’s important to clarify that the TAP-Windows Adapter or Tap-Windows V9 file on your computer is not a virus or malware. If you’re concerned about your safety, you should know that these files appear on your computer after you install a standalone virtual private network client.
Also, you can uninstall TAP-Windows and its related files from your computer, and disable the adapter from the network panel at any time if you didn’t install them willingly. However, doing so may make the VPN service unusable.
But what exactly is the purpose of the TAP-Windows Adapter?
In a shortened and simplified manner, this is a special adapter used by most VPN services to allow them to connect you to the internet privately. When you install most VPNs (this doesn’t apply to browser-based, extension-like VPN products) on your system, they will install the TAP-Windows Adapter too, as it’s crucial for the software’s functionality.
If you’ve installed an antivirus software recently, and it came with a “security package” or something similar that includes a VPN, it may be the reason you have the TAP-Windows Adapter installed on your PC.
Should I Delete TAP-Windows Adapter From My PC?
If you’re not currently using a VPN and didn’t intentionally install software that requires the TAP-Windows Adapter to function properly, you can uninstall it from your computer without worrying that it’ll break something.
If you do plan to use a VPN, however, you shouldn’t uninstall TAP-Windows as it’s a critical component of the software you’ll use.
Important Things To Know Before Uninstalling TAP-Windows
If it turns out you didn’t intentionally install the adapter on your PC, rather a program did it for you, and now you wish to uninstall it, here’s what you need to know.
The initial and vital step is to discover which program utilizes the adapter. As stated earlier, it’s mostly a VPN service, but if you didn’t install a separate VPN client, the adapter might have been installed by antivirus software with an extra virtual private network feature.
Once you find which software it’s tied to, make sure it’s not running in the background before initiating the uninstall. You can use the Task Manager to end all processes related to that software. Also, if you have any, disable running VPN clients to avoid possible problems during the uninstall process.
Uninstalling TAP-Windows Adapter
If you decided to uninstall TAP-Windows adapter, here’s how to do that:
Reminder: Before following the steps, make sure all VPN services and antivirus programs that could have a VPN service integrated are disabled. Double-check your Task Manager panel to ensure there aren’t any processes utilizing the TAP-Windows adapter running on your computer.
- Press Windows + S simultaneously on your keyboard to bring up the Windows Search Box.
- Type Device Manager and press Enter.
- Find the Network Adapters category, then click the arrow icon next to the name to expand it.
- Locate the TAP-Windows Adapter on the list, then right-click it and choose Uninstall Device.
- Wait for the process to complete, then reboot your PC.
Now you’ve successfully uninstalled the TAP-Windows adapter from your computer. If you did this for troubleshooting purposes, the easiest way to reinstall it is by opening the VPN service you were using, and the software will detect that the adapter is missing so it will offer you to reinstall it with just the click of a button.
If you weren’t using a VPN and don’t plan to do that in the future, the process ends here, as you no longer have the adapter installed on your computer.
That’s all you should know about TAP-Windows Adapter and its purpose. Depending on your version of Windows, you may see a TAP-Windows Adapter with a different version number next to its name, such as 9.9.x, which is characteristic of older Windows versions.
Bottom line is, if you don’t have any software requiring this adapter for functionality, you are free to uninstall it from your PC. If you are a regular VPN user, you should leave it as it’s a helpful component ensuring your VPN can function properly.